Filing a tax return is an important part of your financial plan. However, without the proper documentation, the Canada Revenue Agency will not allow you to claim credits or deductions. Keeping track of receipts and slips is important because without proof, your claim may be denied and you may end up paying more tax than you should.
Caroline Battista, tax analyst with H&R Block Canada and speaker of our upcoming Mind Your Money workshop, offers some advice on how to get organized early and outlines what paperwork you need to complete your return.
First, keep all your receipts and tax slips together in one safe, easy-to-access location. It could be a drawer, an envelope, a file folder or shoebox. This will save looking for receipts at tax time. Remember, if you received a receipt in January 2013 to claim on your tax return, it will be at least 14 months later when you actually file in April.
There are many valuable slips students should keep for taxes, including:
- T2202A form: Provided by your university or college, this form allows you to claim your tuition fees and indicates the number of months you can claim the education amount and the Textbook Tax Credit. It is based on the calendar year.
- T4 slips: If you have worked during the year, your employer is required to supply a T4 by the end of February. If you have moved, make sure you provide an updated address. You need to include all your T4 slips from 2013 on your return. Not reporting income can lead to penalties and interest.
- Student loan statements: For government and provincial student loans, you can claim a tax credit on the interest paid during the calendar year. Unfortunately, private loans and credit lines are not deductible.
- Transit passes and receipts: If you earned enough income in 2013 and depend on transit to get to campus, keep your passes and receipts to claim the Transit Pass Tax Credit. This also includes some electronic tickets if minimum usage requirements are met and weekly passes are purchased for four consecutive weeks. Make sure the pass clearly states your name, how long the pass is valid, the amount paid and the name of the transit authority.
- Moving expenses receipts: If you have taxable income from scholarships or research grants, you may be able to claim moving expenses. You may also qualify if you move more than 40 kilometres for a summer job. Deductible expenses include travel, transportation, storage and the cost of meals and temporary accommodation for up to 15 days.
No matter how little income you may have earned, make sure you file a tax return. You may not be able to claim your tuition and education credits now, but you have to file the T2202A Form the year you receive it in order to carry forward the credits or transfer them to a parent, grandparent or spouse.
Filing also means you probably will qualify for the quarterly GST/HST benefit, which should help your quality of student life. And once you graduate, your carried forward credits can result in a refund once you start earning.
If you find taxes confusing and could use some guidance, you can use an online tax preparation program like H&R Block Tax Software which walks you through step-by-step tips to identify every possible deduction or credit, calculates your return as you go, and ensures you get your maximum refund. And you may be able to file for free. If you would rather consult a tax professional, drop by the H&R Block office in your neighbourhood. Students are entitled to special pricing and a tax professional will review your previous year’s return for free.
About the Speaker
Caroline Battista Tax Analyst, H&R Block Canada
Caroline joined H&R Block as a tax professional in January 2008 after leaving behind a career in the film industry. Steadily promoted within her district, Caroline leveraged her acting skills to act as the local spokesperson and community representative for her area.
Promoted to Tax Analyst in 2013, Caroline continues to support the field as a tax instructor and acts as one of the company’s national spokespeople. She provides commentary on tax law changes and regulatory developments as well as translating tax into simple language.
Prior to joining H&R Block, Caroline was an assistant director in the film and television industry, managing the cast and crew for programs like DaVinci’s Inquest.
She is an active volunteer within her community. She represents H&R Block at the Salvation Army’s Dignity Day preparing tax returns as part of their community outreach program. She also serves on the organizing committee for the Oppenheimer Park Christmas Dinner, which serves more than 2,500 meals on the downtown eastside Vancouver.
Caroline studied marketing and advertising at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and economics at the University of British Columbia.
She lives in North Vancouver with her husband, daughter and father.